Staff knowledge helps company grow turnover

first_img Comments are closed. Ensuring all employees understand their role in satisfying theneeds of the customer helped Astron grow turnover from £13 million to £100million over the last five years. Kathy Woodward, formerly group HR director of print services company Astron,told delegates that she is no doubt that this huge growth was largely theresult of the company’s effective focus on customer satisfaction. Woodward, who is now director of consultancy, said that one of the waysthat Astron made individuals aware of their importance to the customer was bymaking the whole sales cycle, from tender, through to implementation andservice, the joint responsibility of all the employees in the company. “Everybody, IT, purchasing, packaging, logistics, has an obligation to listento customer needs and to innovate,” she said. Woodward said she would expect any member of staff to be able to tellprospective customers how their job impacted on the end product. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Staff knowledge helps company grow turnoverOn 21 May 2002 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

A good fit for shoefayre

first_imgA good fit for shoefayreOn 1 Jul 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Ian Trennan, HR manager at Shoefayre, describes how a bespoke approach tostaff training is delivering good results for the national footwear retailerVocational trainingDesigned and delivered by: The Lexicon Group, Suite 3, TudorHouse, Coychurch Road, Bridgend CF35 5NSPhone: 01656 645008Fax: 01656 646152e-mail: [email protected] bespoke vocational training programme developed over the past 18 months byShoefayre, in partnership with training provider, the Lexicon Group, is bearingfruit. The broad aims of this scheme are to improve our overall skills level, whileincreasing staff job satisfaction and morale. High staff turnover is endemic in the retail sector, and the introduction ofthis bespoke training programme is seen as a very clear way of signalling thatwe care for our employees. Earlier this year, the new scheme saw its first results, with the award ofNVQ and National Traineeship (NT) certificates – since replaced by theFoundation Modern Apprenticeship – to three employees who had successfullycompleted their training. This was seen as a major step in the roll-out of theprogramme and was a major source of satisfaction to all involved in itsdevelopment. Shoefayre is a Co-operative Society, established in 1961. It operates 365outlets throughout England, Scotland and Wales. With a workforce of about3,000, the company has around 10 per cent of employees in formalised trainingat any one time, mostly undertaking NVQ Levels 2 and 3. In the past few years, our approach to training has been revised as part ofa company-wide programme of updating and culture change. Under the new regime, Shoefayre’s training policy – previously largelyorganised regionally – is now being brought under central control, withmultiple providers replaced by a single training and development organisation,the Lexicon Group. This was necessary to bring consistency and equalopportunities to staff across the organisation, as training had previously beenprovided by up to 50 NVQ providers. Simplified We also entered into a contract with the National Contracting Service (NCS).This gave us a single point of contact for all NVQ funding and support in linewith government requirements, greatly simplifying our national training operation.Basically, we felt our employees were not benefiting as they should andShoefayre was not getting the results it needed. It was also the case that training was seen to be delivering qualificationsthat were not wanted and at levels not required. Now we have a tight portfolioof qualifications agreed with Lexicon and any variation to this has to beagreed in advance. Company values promote fair treatment of staff; an approach that we hopewill set us apart from other mainstream retailers. We wanted to create anapproach to training that enabled our people to get something out of theprocess, rather than just a vocational programme that would satisfy the needsof the business. To achieve this, we built up a close working relationship with Lexicon injointly developing vocational training courses that satisfy the internal needsof the company – customer service, stocktaking and so forth – while givingemployees access to nationally-recognised qualifications. This relationship started in summer 2001. At that time, all formal trainingwas on hold and the plan was to concentrate on internal training only. However,despite our apprehension, Lexicon came up with a proposal that convinced us torevisit the NVQ route. Branded programmeWhen we were considering our training requirements, we didn’t want to takean ‘off-the-shelf’ solution. We are working towards a Shoefayre-branded accreditation programme, andLexicon is one of the few providers prepared to put in the time and resourcesto develop a tailored scheme such as this. Lexicon’s corporate development director, Helena Williams, agrees:”What we have developed is not a fixed scheme, it is a flexible approachto training that can be tailored to satisfy both individual and companyneeds.” We spent four months developing the initial courses and launched a pilot inour outlets in South Wales in October 2001. Following the success of thispilot, we went for a national launch in May 2002. Under current arrangements, we offer Foundation and Advanced ModernApprenticeship training in retailing for the 16 to 24 age group, plus NVQ atLevels 2 and 3 for staff over 24. We see the programme as a stepladder that should enable everyone to gain thequalifications to suit their job level. Initially, the take-up was slow (see graph below), mainly because we had toovercome some deep-grained preconceptions about training, which meant peoplewere reluctant to sign up. Due to bad experiences in the past, vocationaltraining was seen as an employer’s way of getting cheap labour. But this is anoutdated view and we set about changing these preconceived ideas. As a key part of this process, we undertook a formal launch to all areamanagers to ensure their buy-in. This then cascaded through the company. “It is critical to develop the relationship between the Lexicon adviserand the branch manager,” said Williams. “Training is tailored to theneeds of each branch and the individuals in that branch. It is important thateveryone appreciates the value and benefits of this approach.” Early results from the retail training programme have been encouraging andthe NVQ partnership programme is now being expanded through the organisation’sLeicester headquarters, and into its warehousing and logistics operations. We have met the initial requirements of changing people’s perceptions abouttheir personal access to training. According to a recent survey, staff membersnow believe that opportunities for development have improved dramatically overthe past few years. They are realising that meaningful training is not just forthe privileged few. We now have 380 people in training. This includes shopworkers aged 16 to 64,and a national training co-ordinator who has just started a Level 4 NVQprogramme. The target for 2003/4 is to increase the numbers participating by200 to 250 people. During the first year, there has been some negative feedback, which isinevitable, but this has been taken on board and fed back into the programme,which continually evolves. Branded programmeWe are still in the early stages, but the next phase in the development ofthe training programme will be to establish means of measuring its impact onthe bottom line of the business in terms of productivity, staff retention andease of recruitment. Recent innovations include a fast-track internal development programme,which enables talented managers to complete training that might normally takethree years in just six to 12 months. We are now looking at ways of integrating fast-track workshops into the NVQprogrammes to allow staff with potential to accelerate their training in asimilar way. We at Shoefayre are very pleased with progress to date. The bespoke trainingwe are now providing has had a major impact on the attitude, morale andconfidence of individuals, really helping to bring them on. Our aim is tomaintain this quality and see a similar transformation with all our teammembers in the future. Training has a real impact on staffThe impact on those who have gonethrough the training has been dramatic. One of the three recent achievers, EmmaTucker, has seen a marked increase in confidence in her personal worth and inher ability to do the job. By targeting the skills and support she needed, shehas now achieved the position of branch manager and she plans to take a NVQLevel 3 in advanced supervisory management.Tucker, who has been with Shoefayre for six years, isenthusiastic about the programmes and the support provided by Lexicon.”The way the courses are structured means they don’t disrupt the workingday, so you can carry on with your job while you study. I think it is a realbonus that you can gain nationally-recognised qualifications while you work,rather than having to make time to go to college.”VerdictMaking a difference for our customersHigh staff turnover is endemic in theretail sector, not a problem faced by Shoefayre alone. However, by offering ourstaff a vocational training structure that is genuinely tailored to individualneeds and that leads to nationally-recognised awards, we feel we have donesomething to signal that we care for our employees and that sets us apart fromother employers in the sector.The main benefit of this approach is that Shoefayre caninfluence how training is delivered through our close relationship withLexicon. Obviously, no training programme is going to be perfect, but whenissues arise, they are quickly recognised and addressed jointly. This is a constantlydeveloping partnership.Ability to meet business needs * * **Buy-in by staff  * * *Flexibility in delivery * * * *Value for money * * * *Overall rating * * * *Key: * = Disappointing  * * * * * = Excellent Comments are closed. last_img read more

Lipids, trophic relationships, and biodiversity in Arctic and Antarctic krill

first_imgEnvironmental seasonality is a critical factor in structuring polar marine ecosystems. The extensive data now available on the lipids of Arctic and Antarctic euphausiids show that all species are characterised by a seasonally high lipid content. and neutral lipids. whether wax esters or triacylglycerols, are primarily accumulated for reproduction. The Arctic Thysanoessa inermis and the Antarctic Euphausia crystallorophias contain high levels of wax esters and higher concentrations of 18:4(n-3) and 20:5(n-3) and a lower ratio of 18:1(n-9)/(n-7) fatty acids in their neutral lipids than the Arctic Thysanoessa raschii and the Antarctic Thysanoessa macrura and Euphausia superba. Large amounts of phytol in the lipids of T. raschii and E. crystallorophias during winter suggest the ingestion of decaying algae originating in sedimenting material or in sea ice. Thysanoessa raschii, T. macrura, and E. superba have a high ratio of 18:1(n-9)/(n-7) fatty acids, indicating animal carnivory. We conclude that T. inermis and E. crystallorophias are true high polar herbivores. while T. raschii. T. macrura. and E. superba are omnivores with a more boreal distribution. The Arctic species Thysanoessa longicaudata and Meganyctiphanes norvegica are carnivores feeding on Calanus, as indicated by high amounts of 20:1(n-9) and 22:1(n-11) fatty acids.last_img read more

Dana Incorporated reduces operating costs and secures $500m of incremental liquidity

first_img Dana Incorporated significantly reduces operating costs. (Credit: Capri23auto from Pixabay.) Dana Incorporated (NYSE: DAN) announced today that it continues to achieve significant operation cost reductions and working capital improvements. In response to ongoing lower customer demand, the company has taken additional cost actions such as the aggressive elimination of discretionary spending and intense flexing of conversion costs across its global manufacturing facilities, including its dedicated aftermarket locations. These cost actions are in addition to compensation reductions that were enacted in April for all salaried associates and its board of directors from 20 percent up to a 50 percent reduction in the chief executive officer’s compensation.“These additional cost-flexing actions are aiding us in aligning our cost structure with the reduced production volumes across the mobility markets,” said James Kamsickas, chairman and CEO of Dana. “We continue to prioritize the safety of our employees and service to our customers, and we have the operational flexibility needed to be responsive during this difficult situation.”The company also announced today that it has entered into a new credit facility (“Bridge Facility”) and amended its existing senior credit facility (“Senior Credit Facility”), which includes its existing revolving credit facility and term loan facilities. The Bridge Facility has a 364-day term and is intended to provide access to additional liquidity should the company need it and can be terminated at the company’s option at any time.  The amended Senior Credit Facility includes a temporary progressive alleviation of its sole financial maintenance covenant.  The first lien net leverage ratio covenant will increase quarterly to a maximum of 4x at the end of 2020 and then decrease quarterly until it returns to 2x at the end of the third quarter of 2022.  The Bridge Facility is in addition to the company’s Senior Credit Facility, which includes a $1 billion revolving credit facility under which the company has drawn $300 million as of March 31.The company also announced that it will temporarily suspend its common stock dividend.Jonathan Collins, executive vice president and CFO of Dana, stated, “We have taken these actions out of an abundance of caution to guarantee our access to liquidity.  The strength of our balance sheet and capital structure offers us flexibility and security as we navigate through these challenging times.”The company had approximately $650 million in cash and marketable securities as of March 31, and currently has $679 million available on its committed revolving credit facility, as well as $500 million on its new Bridge Facility for total liquidity of more than $1.8 billion.  The company notes that it has no meaningful debt maturities before 2024.Dana will provide an update on market conditions on its first-quarter earnings call.Citibank, Barclays, BMO Capital Markets, BofA Securities, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and RBC Capital Markets acted as joint lead arrangers and joint book-runners. Source: Company Press Release The Bridge Facility has a 364-day term and is intended to provide access to additional liquidity should the company need it and can be terminated at the company’s option at any timelast_img read more

Venmore celebrates a ‘triumphant finale to the year!’

first_imgHome » News » Agencies & People » Venmore celebrates a ‘triumphant finale to the year!’ previous nextAgencies & PeopleVenmore celebrates a ‘triumphant finale to the year!’The Negotiator6th February 20190295 Views Venmore Auctions reports that its latest auction was a roaring selling success, placing the Liverpool auction house at one of the top rankings in the country. With 93 per cent of lots sold, their last sale of 2018 was their most successful of the year.More and more bidders are travelling from afar to snap up fantastic investments from resi to commercial!Ronan ConollyThe results confirm that now is the perfect time to buy into Liverpool, a city bursting with potential. From a 1 billion pound investment into regenerating its historic docklands to the £260 million development to regenerate Anfield, the team behind Venmore Auctions is finding more and more bidders travelling from afar to snap up fantastic investments from residential dwellings to commercial lots.Held in the prestigious Liverpool Town Hall, Venmore Auctions presented the ideal chance for first-time buyers to buy a property exuding potential and for developers to compete for their next venture. Auction Director, Ronan Connolly said, “Following the success of our last auction we are delighted to report a triumphant finale to a successful year!”Ronan Conolly Liverpool auction house Venmore Auctions February 6, 2019The NegotiatorWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles Letting agent fined £11,500 over unlicenced rent-to-rent HMO3rd May 2021 BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021last_img read more

How to stay civil when others don’t share your political views

first_img Previous articleState Democratic chairman John Zody to step down in MarchNext articleHealth Department official concerned about COVID-19 spread after Notre Dame fans rush football field Jon ZimneyJon Zimney is the News and Programming Director for News/Talk 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel and host of the Fries With That podcast. Follow him on Twitter @jzimney. How to stay civil when others don’t share your political views Twitter Twitter WhatsApp By Jon Zimney – November 8, 2020 4 509 Pinterest Facebook Google+ WhatsApp IndianaLocalNews Google+ Facebook Pinterest (95.3 MNC) You’ve probably witnessed or experienced some not-so-great conversations with people who have different views than you this year. A college professor at St. Mary’s College is trying to help others remain civil during those difficult and frustrating chats.Professor Megan Zwart at St. Mary’s College in South Bend has been teaching a class about civil discourse since 2016. In 2020, her students have been discussing some of the big topics.“Abortion. Gun rights. Immigration. Environmental policies,” Zwart said. “We’ve talked about ‘cancel culture’ which was an interesting one.”Once a week, her students get together for class, and go through a variety of stories, from “high-quality sources across the political field,” regarding some of the hot topics. Then they have an open dialogue about where they stand on those topics. Then, the conversation molds into listening exercises and teaching moments.“These things want to evolve into debates,” she said. “But for us, it’s really important to have a dialogue, not a debate.”“In a debate, somebody wins and somebody loses. But in a dialogue, everyone can learn something.”Zwirt says one of key things is to have an unbiased mindset heading into the discussion.“You have to have a good context in which everybody is up for it, everyone is willing to listen and learn,” she said. “If you try to persuade somebody, if that’s your aim, then you’re not in control of the outcome and you’re more likely to become frustrated. But if your intent is to understand, then you can ask curious questions to the other person that help you connect the dots. Why do they believe what they believe? How do their values and core beliefs give rise to their views on a specific issue?”She adds that we should live in a world where people have different views, but if you go into a conversation with the intent to try to understand the other view, then you’re going to come out of it thinking you got value out of that discussion.Another key factor is how you’re having this conversation. She advises that to try to do it in-person and not on social media.“It’s much more likely that people are there just to score points or to troll or to make their opponent look foolish.”You can read more about Professor Zwirt’s class, and their tips, at last_img read more

Classic Santana Lineup Announces Debut Performance And New Single ‘Blues Magic’

first_imgScheduled for release on April 15, Santana IV will reunite virtuoso guitar player Carlos Santana with bandmates from his classic 1971 lineup. The recording, which features Gregg Rolie (keyboards, lead vocals), Neal Schon (guitar, vocals), Michael Carabello (percussion) and Michael Shrieve (drums) will be the first time in 41 years that this five-piece has come together. The album also receives contributions from percussionist Karl Perazzo, bassist Benny Rietveld and vocalist Ronald Isley.In lieu of this momentous occasion, Santana has revealed that the band will be playing their first show since 1973 at the House of Blues Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay on March 21. The show will also be taped for for an upcoming DVD and TV release. Pre-sale tickets for the event go on sale Saturday, March 5 at 10 AM PST, with public on sale beginning March 14 at 9 AM. More ticketing details can be found here.Fans can get a sneak peak of Santana IV here with the new slow-burning single Santana has just released today titled “Blues Magic,” which you can stream below:For a further look inside the making of the new album, check out the new teaser trailer via Guitar World here.last_img read more

“Blurred Lines” Infringed On Marvin Gaye Song, Rules U.S. Appeals Court In 2-1 Ruling

first_imgOn March 21st, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter, The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a former verdict that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ 2013 pop hit “Blurred Lines” did infringe on Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up”. This case has been particularly controversial since it first hit the courts in 2015, making it one of the most followed copyright infringement cases in history. The appeals court rule 2-1 in favor of the Gaye Estate, with the one dissenting judge, U.S. Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen, declaring that the decision “strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere”, noting that the Gaye Estate’s win effectively “accomplish[ed] what no one has before: copyright[ing] a musical style.”However, with this appeal, the Ninth Circuit ruled that Thicke and Williams are liable for $5.3 million dollars in damages to the Gaye Estate. More specifically, the two musicians behind “Blurred Lines” are now responsible for covering $3,188,528 in damages, plus portions of the profits—$1,768,192 for Thicke and $357,631 for Williams. Furthermore, the court ruled that the Gaye Estate should receive 50% of future songwriter and publishing revenues earned by “Blurred Lines” and absolved Clifford “TI” Harris and Interscope Records of any part in the infringement.U.S. Circuit Judge Milan D. Smith noted that the panel “decided this case on narrow grounds” in his ruling, though in the end, the court rejected Thicke and Williams’ argument that Gaye’s music should only receive “thin” protection. However, Nguyen’s dissenting opinion was scathing, to say the least. She wrote that “‘Blurred Lines’ and ‘Got to Give It Up’ are not objectively similar. They differ in melody, harmony, and rhythm. Yet by refusing to compare the two works, the majority establishes a dangerous precedent that strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere.” She continued, “The Gayes, no doubt, are pleased by this outcome. They shouldn’t be. They own copyrights in many musical works, each of which (including ‘Got to Give It Up’) now potentially infringes the copyright of any famous song that preceded it.”While Nguyen’s stance on this was strong, Smith addressed these concepts in his own brief. He wrote:[T]he dissent prophesies that our decision will shake the foundations of copyright law, imperil the music industry, and stifle creativity. … It even suggests that the Gayes’ victory will come back to haunt them, as the Gayes’ musical compositions may now be found to infringe any number of famous songs preceding them. Respectfully, these conjectures are unfounded hyperbole. Our decision does not grant license to copyright a musical style or ‘groove.’ Nor does it upset the balance Congress struck between the freedom of artistic expression, on the one hand, and copyright protection of the fruits of that expression, on the other hand. … Far from heralding the end of musical creativity as we know it, our decision, even construed broadly, reads more accurately as a cautionary tale for future trial counsel wishing to maximize their odds of success.Nguyen also questioned the process behind the ruling, calling out what she found to be “the majority’s uncritical deference to music experts.” In the 2015 trial, the trial judge did not allow the jury to actually listen to both songs, instead using each song’s sheet music submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office as the basis for the lawsuit—”Got To Give It Up” was protected by the 1909 Copyright Act, which didn’t cover sound recordings and was the standing copyright law until the mid-1970s. Smith upheld this ruling of only allowing jurors to see the sheet music rather than hear the two songs for comparison, leading Nguyen to add in her dissent,Admittedly, it can be very challenging for judges untrained in music to parse two pieces of sheet music for extrinsic similarity. But however difficult this exercise, we cannot simply defer to the conclusions of experts about the ultimate finding of substantial similarity. While experts are invaluable in identifying and explaining elements that appear in both works, judges must still decide whether, as a matter of law, these elements collectively support a finding of substantial similarity. Here, they don’t, and the verdict should be vacated. You can read the official ruling from Judge Milan D. Smith and Judge Jacqueline Nguyen dissent here.[H/T Hollywood Reporter]last_img read more

Nirvana’s Final Studio Album, “In Utero”, Was Released 25 Years Ago Today [Listen]

first_imgIn just seven years—and only three with mainstream success—Nirvana paved the way for the sound of American music in the early 1990’s. Few bands were able to make such profound and impactful statements in the music industry in such a brief amount of time.Following their 1989 album, Bleach, and 1991’s Nevermind, Nirvana released their third and final studio album, In Utero, on September 21, 1993. It was a major step forward for the band, using this new platform of fame to challenge their audience and distort both their public image and their sound.The record wasn’t completed during their studio session with Steve Albini, however, and took R.E.M producer Scott Litt to dedicate some serious amendments to the album’s overall packaging, resolving controversy over the record’s production and mixing. This was difficult for bandleader Kurt Cobain to deal with, as he wanted to keep this record in the nature that sought to define it: raw, in the moment, fluid with his own pace. But the label wouldn’t approve, saying no one would like it.It was after Scott Litt’s adaptations that the quality of the record was finally ready for their label DGC to approve as commercially viable. With his help, “Heart-Shaped Box” made it out to the shelves as the first single, and the entire record eventually debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart. Selling over 180,000 copies in the first week alone, stores like Kmart and Wal-Mart still refused to sell the less-than-appropriate work-of-art.While the band’s intent was to relinquish mainstream approval and defy the standards of their label’s interests, they still managed to deliver one of the most important records of the 90s. Kurt Cobain died less a year later on April 5, 1994. In honor of In Utero‘s milestone birthday today, stream the full record below via Spotify:Nirvana – In Utero – Full Album Nirvana – In Utero – TracklistingAll songs written by Kurt Cobain, except where noted.“Serve the Servants” – 3:36“Scentless Apprentice” (Cobain, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic) – 3:48“Heart-Shaped Box” – 4:41“Rape Me” – 2:50“Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle” – 4:09“Dumb” – 2:32“Very Ape” – 1:56“Milk It” – 3:55“Pennyroyal Tea” – 3:37“Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” – 4:51“tourette’s” – 1:35“All Apologies” – 3:51View Tracklistinglast_img read more

An ode to life

first_imgComposer and musician Fred Ho is comfortable in his own skin, and sometimes not much else. In photographs, the self-described nudist is often seen covered up only by his regular companion, a strategically placed baritone saxophone.There is a sense of peaceful strength and comfort with life that surrounds Ho, the result, in part, of his recent battle with an often-lethal enemy.In August 2006, Ho, who is also a political activist, author, and playwright, was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer and given almost impossible odds of survival. But after three years, seven surgeries, and chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Ho was declared free of the disease.“I feel much better,” said the 1979 Harvard graduate in the lobby of Harvard’s New College Theatre on Holyoke Street, “considering I was supposed to be dead last year.”On Nov. 13, the outspoken Ho will receive this year’s Harvard Arts Medal, an honor given to a Harvard or Radcliffe graduate or faculty member in recognition of contributing to the arts, and in particular contributing to education or the public good. Past winners include cellist Yo-Yo Ma ’76, film director Mira Nair ’79, author John Updike ’54, and actor Jack Lemmon ’47.Ho has been on campus for several weeks, participating in a residency sponsored by the Office for the Arts’ Learning From Performers program. He has worked closely with student performers on his new piece “Take the Zen Train.” The work, commissioned by the Harvard Jazz Bands and the Office for the Arts, will premiere at Lowell Lecture Hall on Nov. 14.The 20-minute composition in six movements incorporates music for the Jazz Bands with choreography for three student dancers who have backgrounds in hip-hop, ballet, and the Chinese martial art of Wushu. Ho enlisted the help of New York stage director Daniel Jáquez, a product of the American Repertory Theater /Moscow Art Theater School Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University, to stage the dance element of the piece, which chronicles Ho’s battle with cancer.“It’s my philosophical journey,” Ho said, “a series of epiphanies, what the war against cancer taught me.”Jáquez, who has made frequent visits to Harvard to work with students on the production, said he tried to find dancers during auditions who “had the passion and the understanding of what this struggle was for Fred.”For Ho, battling the disease deepened his understanding of the importance of health, wisdom, and love, and gave him a profound understanding of “how creativity can really make us better.”“We are not the sum of our blood vessels, our DNA, our tissue, and our bones,” said Ho. “What makes the human species and each of us individually unique is our consciousness, our ability to create.”Conformity was never part of Ho’s larger picture. At Harvard in the 1970s, the sociology concentrator challenged what he deemed the “hard core [Max] Weberians” with his thoughts on communism and Karl Marx. He also delved into political and social activism, and founded the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Association.The trend extended to his socially charged music, which refused to fit a particular genre. Though often labeled jazz, Ho’s work frequently incorporates elements of traditional African and Asian music, resulting in a complex and multilayered product.Ho’s pieces have been called “fiercely imaginative” and include interactive video opera, as well as musical theater. The composer said he was thrilled to create a work for Harvard using his “revolutionary earth music,” a style that “challenges conventional harmony.”My chords “don’t follow any of the formulas or tropes [of jazz]. For a student group to take on that challenge is remarkable,” he said, adding that the Harvard students share his willingness to “try new things.”Thomas G. Everett, director of the Harvard University Bands, was a bit concerned when he first saw the music created by Ho, who as an undergraduate was a member of the Harvard Jazz Band and wrote compositions for the ensemble. Everett wondered if “Take the Zen Train’s” rapid changes of style, key, tempo, and dynamics, which are “crucial to the success of the piece,” might overwhelm the group.“The students on first playing were a little baffled,’’ Everett said. But at subsequent rehearsals — with Ho in attendance, playing along, and helping guide the students through the work — the players began to blend into the piece.“That is when the magic happened,” said Everett.In the end, Ho hopes he can inspire students and listeners alike with the music and the message in “Take the Zen Train.”“I hope,” he said, “that people come away with a spirit of elation about the impossible.”the world of fred hoFred Ho will receive the Harvard Arts Medal Friday (Nov. 13) at 5 p.m. in the New College Theatre, 12 Holyoke St. Free and open to the public but tickets required; available through the Harvard Box Office (617.496.2222,, limit two per person.“The World of Fred Ho” is a tribute concert with Ho and the Harvard Jazz Bands Saturday (Nov. 14) at 8 p.m. in Lowell Lecture Hall, 17 Kirkland St. Tickets are $10 general admission; $8 students and senior citizens and are available through the Harvard Box Office.The world of Fred HoFred Ho will receive the Harvard Arts Medal Nov. 13 at 5 p.m. in the New College Theatre, 12 Holyoke St. Free and open to the public but tickets required; available through the Harvard Box Office (617.496.2222) limit two per person.“The World of Fred Ho” is a tribute concert with Ho and the Harvard Jazz Bands Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. in Lowell Lecture Hall, 17 Kirkland St. Tickets are $10 general admission; $8 students and senior citizens and are available through the Harvard Box Office.last_img read more